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Home School of Engineering Technology and Applied Science Blog 2019 June 20 The answers to building a career in architectural technology

The answers to building a career in architectural technology

Picture of architecture student pouring over a cluttered desk as he writes

Architects and other building professionals have an all-star cast that helps them to ensure buildings are sound and up to code. On this team are architectural technicians and technologists who work closely with architects and other building professionals to provide architectural design services and solutions on construction projects. Here are answers to some of the questions that will help you to discover this exciting profession.

How is architectural technology different than architecture?

Architecture has various facets that deal with the design, construction, enlargement, conservation, restoration, or alteration of a building or group of buildings, according to the Ontario Association of Architects. Among these facets are land-use planning, urban design, construction economics, coordination of technical documents and monitoring of construction. Architectural technology is another one of those facets and often considered its own distinct area. In the simplest of terms, it’s concerned with the application of technology to the design of buildings. More specifically, as Empoli Quebec points out, “architectural technologists and technicians may work independently or provide technical assistance to professional architects and civil design engineers in conducting research, preparing drawings, architectural models, specifications and contracts, and in supervising construction projects.”

Is there a difference between architectural technologists and architectural technicians?

While both of these roles are extremely similar, becoming a technologist takes three years of post-secondary training and becoming an architectural technician takes two. As a result, a technologist will have more responsibility than a technician, as he or she will have studied additional topics such as technical writing, project management, advanced presentation techniques, advanced structures, specification writing and contracts, design and Computer-Aided Drafting (CAD) multiuse projects. So, for example, architectural technologists may ensure that the technical aspects of design work and comply with regulations and may be hired to oversee a project from start to finish. Technicians, meanwhile, may focus on assisting with preparing drawings, compiling technical information (such as surveys), and drafting proposals and contracts.

What is the top tool of architectural technologists and technicians?

In our modern, computer-driven world, CAD has taken over the traditional drafting for which both of these roles are responsible. It’s most commonly used because it’s faster than traditional drafting, produces more accurate results and allows for simulations. You can use CAD to produce either two-dimensional or three-dimensional diagrams, which you can then rotate to be viewed from any angle, even from the inside looking out. Technologists and technicians must make sure that these drawings conform to precise specifications.

What sort of careers can I get in this field?

The Department of Employment and Social Development Canada reports that the employment outlook will be fair for architectural technologists and technicians in Ontario for the 2018-2020 period, with employment growth leading to a moderate number of new positions. The same Department reports that in Ontario there are currently 3,050 people in this occupation with 75 per cent working in architectural, engineering and design services and 10 per cent working in construction. The majority of positions in this field are full-time (93 per cent). While a technician graduates with this credential, he or she may fill roles such as architectural illustrator or renderer, architectural designer, interior design draftsperson, plans examiner and building inspector. A technologist, meanwhile, may become an architectural drafter, an architectural CAD operator, a specifications writer or a municipal plans examiner.

At Centennial College, students have the option of attending a two-year program, called Architectural Technician, or a three-year program, called Architectural Technology. Both of these programs provide an extensive range of hands-on training with a strong emphasis on energy-efficient, sustainable design and construction strategies, and protecting the environment. Because of the similarity between programs, students who originally wanted to go into the three-year program can graduate after two years if their plans change. Students in the two-year program, meanwhile, can transition into the three-year option.

By Izabela Szydlo

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